Last weekend, Seventh Star Press author John F. Allen launched his first-ever title, The God Killers, at Fletcher Place Arts and Books in downtown Indianapolis. It was a huge success. He’ll be joining Eric Garrison, Michael West, and me at Fandomfest this weekend, all four members of our guerilla marketing group The Corvus Quartet (Google Corvus Constellation) with our books loaded and ready to dazzle.
Cue the synopsis!
In The God Killers, the First Book of The God Killers Legacy, former professional art thief Ivory Blaque is hired to procure a pair of antique pistols and gets much more than she bargained for when several attempts are made on her life. Her client turns out to be a shadowy government agent who reveals that she is descended from a race of immortals, and that the pistols are linked to her unique heritage and the special psychic gifts she possesses. He uses the memories of her father to guilt her into working for him.
Ivory eventually gives in to his request, and in return, he presents her with her father’s journal, which was written in an unbreakable code. Bishop believes that she is the only one capable of breaking the code and unlocking the plans of the vampire hierarchy. But when the city’s top vampire is a sexy incubus with an attraction for her and she’s assigned a hot new lycan enforcer to protect her, she finds herself caught between two sets of rock hard abs. To regain her autonomy, clear her name, unlock the secrets of her past, and protect the lives of those closest to her, Ivory must play along with the forces trying to manipulate her. Ivory’s life is rapidly spiraling out of control and headed for an explosive conclusion which she just might not survive.
Thanks for taking the time for this. The first question that comes to mind, having done the same thing, what was your experience as a man, writing a story from a woman’s point of view? Talk about that how you approached it.
Thanks for having me RJ! A lot of the urban fantasy out there is written by a woman, from the perspective of a woman or both. So, when I thought of writing the character I was faced with what POV to use. I chose first person because I thought that it gave me the greatest opportunity to experience what Ivory goes through and give a lot of internal dialogue. Let me say it was indeed a BIG challenge, but one I was ready and excited to accept. I used my wife as a template for the character’s personality traits—most of them at least. I also consulted her on how she or any female might act and react in certain situations I place Ivory in. She proved to be an invaluable resource and my muse.
You’ve shared with me some stories about growing up as an African American male in Indianapolis, and the expectations your peers placed upon you. How tough was it to be a comic book and SF geek in that climate, and what were your takeaways looking back?
It was extremely challenging for me as an African American comic geek growing up. Many of my friends just weren’t into those sorts of things. A lot of the neighborhood kids—especially males—were playing sports or otherwise engaged, while I drawing, had my nose in a book/comic or was playing outside (Cowboys & Indians, Cops & Robbers, Superheroes & villains, etc…) with the other geeks. The experience was very rewarding in regards to my writing career because it developed my imagination and led me to create the stories I write with dynamic characters like Ivory.
You main character Ivory is a private investigator, a career you chose in real life at some point. Is Ivory’s world purely tapping the fictions of a noir/ urban fantasy / adventure setting, or were you able to bring any of your experience to her world? (You haven’t killed any vampires or werewolves, have you?)
I did put a bit of my experiences with the military and as a private investigator into Ivory’s world. She also owns an art gallery and I studied art history and visual art in college, so that background came in handy as well. I’d say that a lot of her adventures are plotted out with my own experiences and line of thinking in mind. And to answer your other question, no I haven’t…at least that I know of.
Your setting: why Chicago?
I chose Chicago because it’s close to Indianapolis (Ivory has ties to Indianapolis btw) it is the largest Metropolitan Midwestern city in the country, I’m intimately familiar with its culture, geography and history (frequent trips and my brother lived there) and there’s always something going on in the city.
What are you favorite genre authors? Include comic books as well. Particularly, which ones inspired the Ivory Blaque novels?
Robert B. Parker, L.A. Banks, James R. Tuck, Faith Hunter, Kevin Hearne, Walter Mosley, Laurell K. Hamilton, Tom Clancy, Jenna Black, Jon Merz, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Dwayne McDuffie, Lucy A. Snyder, Chris Claremont, Amanda Stevens, Neil Gaiman, Seressia Glass and Stan Lee.
How has publishing changed in the last decade, and how has being here, now, similar or different from your hopes and expectations growing up? Do you see publishing currently in a good or bad place?
I think that publishing has changed in that there are quite a few more self-published authors out there and self publishing isn’t frowned upon quite as much as it has been in the past. Also, I notice that since the number of self-published authors has grown, many small press publishers have taken the opportunity to seek out those talented authors and sway them to their presses. In turn, many BIG publishers are offering self-publication imprints to sway indie authors their way as well. I guess the bottom line is that authors have a lot more options on how they can approach the release of their work to the public and with those options, it give the authors more control over their creative properties and a larger chuck of the revenue in some cases.
One factor that helps Seventh Star stand apart is their lineup of artists and the interior art, which comes “standard” with all releases. A factor that makes you unique among their authors is that you have some art background coming into this process. Talk about working with your artist and how your unique background affected the process.
I think that my having a background as a visual artist is a double edged sword most of the times. On the one hand, I am VERY descriptive of what I see in my mind’s eye and can relate to the actual creative process in which visual artists use. However, another artist may find it a challenge to work with me at times, due to the fact that I’m so descriptive and intent on how things should look. I often find myself sketching out the characters and giving them to the artists to use as a reference, because I have such a lock on my initial vision(s).
Congratulation on your book launch! I’m reading it now and really digging it. Besides future volumes of Ivory Blaque, what can we expect from you?
I have a Sword & Sorcery short story which will be featured in an anthology titled, “Thunder on the Battlefield”. I’m also working on expanding Ivory’s world, what I’ve affectionately dubbed, “The Ivoryverse.” Readers can expect other characters to be introduced in the Ivory Blaque series and to eventually be featured in their own short stories, collections and novels sometime in the future. Look for a team of covert, military operatives, codenamed: Shadow Corps and a sci-fi espionage themed character named Knight Ranger, who makes a cameo appearance in The God Killers to get some short story/novella/novel love in the VERY near future!